The Science Behind WandaVision
By James Neil 18/04/2021
Wanda and vision | image coutesy of DMED Wandavision Media kit, photo coutesy of Marvel studios
last month , we saw the mindbending conclusion of the Disney+ show ‘WandaVision’. Whilst this latest instalment in the MCU focuses on the Mystical and strange it still holds true to its basis in Science fiction with characters such as Vision and Monica Rambeau’s abilities having a basis science fact. As such, I feel it is time to investigate these characters and their basis in reality, so from Wanda to Westview let’s examine the science behind WandaVision.
First, let’s examine the android and title character Vision. Vision’s entire being as an A.I. robot capable of human emotion is a classic sci-fi trope. Whilst we may not find any robots with the charm of Paul Bettany, the beginnings of the Vision can be found in the world of A.I. development in particular machine learning. This is the study of computer algorithms and designing them to complete a task using data provided to them to solve a problem. There are various methods of developing an algorithm to complete a goal and we have begun to see their uses in our society already. Digital assistants like Siri and Alexa use machine learning algorithms to better tailor themselves to the user. They have also begun to make their mark on medical imaging. These powerful algorithms can examine an x-ray or CT scan and detect anomalies that a human may miss. We even see Vision use this type of algorithms in the show as he puts together what has happened, in a way similar to that of a detective. Whilst it's unlikely we will see any programs as advanced as the Vision in the near future, the technology is there and is being developed.
The second character I wanted to investigate was Monica Rambeau. This agent of the newly introduced agency “S.W.O.R.D” develops an incredible ability throughout the show, her constant interactions with the ‘Hex’ cast by Wanda surrounding the town of Westview gives here the ability to perceive the electromagnetic spectrum in a way beyond an average human. The EM spectrum is something we interact with every day with light being the central part of its makeup. What makes them unique is their combination of electric and magnetic fields vibrating in time with each other to create a waveform. The EM spectrum incorporates a wide range of waves from high-frequency, high energy gamma radiation (yes, the same thing that turned Dr Banner into the Hulk) all the way to low-frequency microwaves (like the kind used to heat your dinner) and radio waves used to play music. Scientists use EM waves and equipment that allows them to detect them to build up a picture of otherwise impossible to view structures. whilst you may be familiar with using X-rays for medical imaging, we also use them to understand the makeup of crystals. We even use radio-telescopes to investigate astrophysical phenomena we otherwise wouldn't be able to detect. Regardless this spectrum of waves is vitally important to modern life and scientific study.
Whilst the world of 'WandaVision' and the wider MCU is largely fantastical, it's interesting nevertheless, to see where the parallels with our world lie, and how its often most unbelievable elements help us every day.